BISMARCK, N.D. (CBS Seattle) — An anchor who was fired for uttering obscenities during his first newscast is basking in the spotlight.
A.J. Clemente, who said “f***ing s***” as his first two words on a Sunday newscast for Bismarck’s KFYR-TV, took Manhattan by storm Thursday appearing on “Live With Kelly and Michael,” NBC’s “Today” show and CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman.”
The video of Clemente went viral Monday. The station initially suspended Clemente before firing him.
“If it wasn’t me, I would grab a beer and literally watch it 100 times,” he told Letterman.
Clemente said his gaffe was caused by trying to pronounce the winner of the London Marathon, Tsegaye Kebede. He didn’t have an ear piece to communicate with the control room and the audio was turned down in the studio. He had no idea he was live on air when he made the comments.
“I shouldn’t have said the words to begin with but it was a ‘perfect storm’ of a whole bunch of mistakes,” Clemente said.
Clemente and his broadcast partner Van Tieu had no idea what happened until the station’s news director, Monica Hannan, informed them during the newscast.
“By the third break, my news director walks in. She says, ‘You need to apologize.’ We all said, ‘For what?’”
Clemente has not only received support from Letterman and NBC’s Matt Lauer, but from thousands on Facebook and Twitter. The station has been receiving backlash on its Facebook page for letting Clemente go.
“I wish you would reconsider your decision to fire AJ,” Adam Kyle wrote. “His response and reaction to all of this has been mature and well measured. He has probably won many people over with his humility.”
Philip Chua posted: “The entire country will now judge your station by your actions in this young man’s case. You will be harshly judged for that one error.”
KFYR has yet to make a statement on Clemente’s termination but did apologize for the incident.
“He did not realize his microphone was on, but still, that’s no excuse,” Hannan said in a statement. “WE train our reporters to always assume that any microphone is live at any time. Unfortunately, that was not enough in this case. WE can’t take back what was said.”
Clemente told Letterman he holds no animosity toward the station, but he does hope ESPN gives him a call.